DENVER (AP) — Franklin Morales was worn out and running on fumes by the time the sixth inning rolled around.
Going from a starter earlier in the season to a reliever and back to a starter will tend to do that.
Morales pitched effectively into the sixth – his longest outing since May – and Charlie Blackmon hit a two-run homer, helping the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 2-1 on Tuesday night.
“I do feel a little bit tired,” Morales said.
Still, it was another solid performance for Morales (5-4), who was reinserted into the starting rotation on July 3. The lefty surrendered four hits and one run before being removed for a reliever with two outs in the sixth.
“I just tried to make my pitches and give an opportunity to my team,” said Morales, who struck out six.
Blackmon gave him all the run support he would need with his homer in the third. It’s not like Tyson Ross (7-9) made a bad pitch, either.
The slider from Ross was down near the dirt and yet Blackmon drove the pitch into the seats in right field.
“If he didn’t swing, it probably would have been a ball,” said Ross, who’s not slated to pitch in the All-Star game since he’s scheduled to start Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. “He put a good swing on it, a good at-bat right there. I threw the pitch that I wanted there.
“He’s an All-Star. He put a good swing on it and the ball got out.”
The slider to Blackmon aside, Ross said he felt “pretty strong” and had a “good rhythm” in this game. He went six innings and allowed six hits.
“I’m in the strike zone a lot more,” Ross said.
Blackmon had a double to go with his 13th homer of the season as he finally feels like his swing is getting dialed in again.
“I just kind of felt like I got into maybe some bad habits,” said Blackmon, who will be making his first appearance at the Midsummer Classic next week in Minnesota. “That kept me from being simple and direct to the ball. I’ve simplified things a little bit lately.”
Rene Rivera homered for the Padres in the sixth. Chris Denorfia had three hits.
Colorado’s bullpen held San Diego’s bats at bay over the final three innings to preserve the win for Morales. It was just the fourth victory by a Rockies starter in the last 25 games and first by someone other than Jorge De La Rosa over that stretch.
The Rockies received a scare in the ninth when left fielder Corey Dickerson rolled over his left wrist trying to make a diving catch on pinch-hitter Seth Smith’s two-out double. Dickerson stayed in the game after being checked on by a trainer and manager Walt Weiss.
Dickerson’s wrist was wrapped after the game, but he said X-rays were “good” and that he just “tweaked it.”
Morales started the season in the rotation, but was bumped to the bullpen after a shaky stretch. The Rockies made him a starter again out of necessity when Christian Bergman went out with a fractured left wrist.
The 28-year-old Morales has a 1.69 ERA in his last two starts.
“He scattered some balls around the hitting area, he made some pitches and got us out,” Padres manager Bud Black said.
Morales cruised along until walking two batters in the fourth. He struck out Cameron Maybin to wiggle out of the situation.
Denorfia led off the game with a double, only to be stranded when Morales struck out the side.
Blackmon was left on base after a leadoff double, too. Ross struck out two of three, including Troy Tulowitzki on a called third strike that froze the All-Star shortstop.
“This was a good game,” Weiss said. “A well-played game.”
NOTES: The Padres will go for their first series win at Coors Field in two years on Wednesday. LHP Eric Stults (3-11) goes for the Padres while the Rockies counter with RHP Jair Jurrjens (0-1), who experienced tightness in his chest after his last start at Coors on the Fourth of July. … Ross and Morales both threw 98 pitches, 63 for strikes. … Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez (left index finger) could be back in the lineup as soon as Friday. He’s been out since June 4. … RHP Eddie Butler (rotator cuff) threw around 60 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday. … Morales is 5-0 against the NL West this season.